Tuesday, December 18, 2018

NJ Star-Ledger Repudiates the First Amendment, Calls for Censorship

The drumbeat of demands by statists to bring government controls down upon the social media companies continues apace. In Move fast, break things: Facebook living up to its creed, the New Jersey Star-Ledger declared on 11/21/18:

It's time to apply a new set of rules to Facebook, one that matches its global imprint, because it still believes that it is entitled to reap billion-dollar benefits without a dime's worth of accountability.

This website is no longer just a privacy burn pit adorned with cheery cat videos. It spawned the Arab Spring that erupted in the streets of Cairo. It was used by the Myanmar military as a tool for genocide. It allowed Kremlin disinformation to ignite a war in Ukraine. It gave Russia the ability to weaponize ads and fake news and contaminate a U.S. election.

Accountability--to whom? To the state, that’s who. The S-L continues:

We have laws forbidding foreign entities from funding political ads. But Facebook essentially allowed an adversary to hijack a megaphone that reaches 2.2 billion people, creating chaos in the American electoral process, and then lied about it.

I’m not going to defend Mark Zuckerberg’s response to the political attacks. I found his reaction to be weak and unprincipled in defending his company, which has done a great thing in creating a platform for so many average people to bypass the government and established media propaganda machines.

In the past year, as he has tried to ward off government regulation, Zuckerberg has gone before Congress to promise he'll get his half-trillion-dollar toy under control, part of an apology tour for the Russian escapade and for allowing the pro-Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly harvest information from 87 million users.

Yet at the same time, the company lobbied Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to convince other lawmakers to back off Facebook (surprise: his daughter works there), and hired a Republican opposition research firm to shift the blame onto rival tech giants such as Google.

In other words, while Zuckerberg was publicly repentant, Facebook was engaged in the sleaziest forms of dark-ops lobbying.

I understand the lobbying. Our government has become an extortion scheme that makes the Mafia look like amateurs. But Zuckerberg needs to go to the public, and make an unapologetic defense of his business model on freedom of speech grounds. The S-L concludes:

As a media company, its societal impact must come with a level of responsibility.[!] Facebook cannot always be the perfect arbiter of truth, but it can at least try. And yes, it's complicated: The data breaches and unauthorized uses of that data are one thing; the management of fake news and malicious content is harder to tackle. Its promise last week to demote "provocative content" is a good start, but it does not go far enough.

Because when Facebook fails, the consequences are felt globally. Ethnic violence can erupt. Elections lose their legitimacy. It grew too fast, and it is too overwhelmed to fix or police itself. It's time for Congress to call Zuckerberg back in and tell him the reckoning has arrived.

The emphasis is mine. I left these comments:

So, we the 2.2 billion people, are too stupid to decipher truth from falsehood, “hate” from love, “politically correct” from “fake,” “malicious” from honest, or be able to handle “provocative” ideas and opinions without turning into violent wild animals. So we need political masterminds to decipher it for us!

Illegal foreign government meddling in elections is a red herring. Illegal acts can be handled like any other crime--with investigations, subpoenas, and rules of evidence gathering that protects the innocent. So is the issue of privacy, which can be handled by contract law.

When regulation is proposed, we’re talking about control of the innocent by the political class, which has a legal monopoly on the use of physical coercion. When you talk about control of content, you’re talking about censorship, plain and simple. In an Aug. 16 editorial, the S-L stated that “the real enemy of the people ... is a government that wants to be the sole arbiter of truth.” Yet, it calls for Facebook to be “the perfect arbiter of truth,” or else face a “reckoning” by Congress. Apparently, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” applies only to the established press, and not to the “chaos” of we 2.2 billion dregs freely expressing, reading, sharing, debating, and analyzing for ourselves.

Censorship-by-proxy is as much an abridgement as if Congress censored the Star-Ledger. And for what? Because an election didn’t go the way the statist Left approved, and thus lost its “legitimacy.” The totalitarian democracy fangs of the Left is on full display here.


Make no mistake. Our First Amendment protections of our intellectual freedom are at stake.

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1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

I wonder if any other Objectivist individuals or organizations are raising a public squawk about this kind of stuff. I've not seen any evidence that any are.